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      Long-term use of amiodarone before heart transplantation significantly reduces early post-transplant atrial fibrillation and is not associated with increased mortality after heart transplantation

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          Amiodarone is a frequently used antiarrhythmic drug in patients with end-stage heart failure. Given its long half-life, pre-transplant use of amiodarone has been controversially discussed, with divergent results regarding morbidity and mortality after heart transplantation (HTX).


          The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of long-term use of amiodarone before HTX on early post-transplant atrial fibrillation (AF) and mortality after HTX.


          Five hundred and thirty patients (age ≥18 years) receiving HTX between June 1989 and December 2012 were included in this retrospective single-center study. Patients with long-term use of amiodarone before HTX (≥1 year) were compared to those without long-term use (none or <1 year of amiodarone). Primary outcomes were early post-transplant AF and mortality after HTX. The Kaplan–Meier estimator using log-rank tests was applied for freedom from early post-transplant AF and survival.


          Of the 530 patients, 74 (14.0%) received long-term amiodarone therapy, with a mean duration of 32.3±26.3 months. Mean daily dose was 223.0±75.0 mg. Indications included AF, Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome, ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation. Patients with long-term use of amiodarone before HTX had significantly lower rates of early post-transplant AF ( P=0.0105). Further, Kaplan–Meier analysis of freedom from early post-transplant AF showed significantly lower rates of AF in this group ( P=0.0123). There was no statistically significant difference between patients with and without long-term use of amiodarone prior to HTX in 1-year ( P=0.8596), 2-year ( P=0.8620), 5-year ( P=0.2737), or overall follow-up mortality after HTX ( P=0.1049). Moreover, Kaplan–Meier survival analysis showed no statistically significant difference in overall survival ( P=0.1786).


          Long-term use of amiodarone in patients before HTX significantly reduces early post-transplant AF and is not associated with increased mortality after HTX.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Amiodarone: electrophysiologic actions, pharmacokinetics and clinical effects.

          Interest in amiodarone has increased because of its remarkable efficacy as an antiarrhythmic agent. The purpose of this report is to review what is known about the electrophysiologic actions, hemodynamic effects, pharmacokinetics, alterations of thyroid function, response to treatment of supraventricular and ventricular tachyarrhythmias and adverse effects of amiodarone. Understanding the actions of amiodarone and its metabolism will provide more intelligent use of the drug and minimize the development of side effects. The mechanism by which amiodarone suppresses cardiac arrhythmias is not known and may relate to prolongation of refractoriness in all cardiac tissues, suppression of automaticity in some fibers, minimal slowing of conduction in fast channel-dependent tissue, or to interactions with the autonomic nervous system, alterations in thyroid metabolism or other factors. Amiodarone exerts definite but fairly minor negative inotropic effects that may be offset by its vasodilator actions. Amiodarone has a reduced clearance rate, large volume of distribution, low bioavailability and a long half-life that may last 2 months in patients receiving short-term therapy. Therapeutic serum concentrations range between 1.0 and 3.5 micrograms/ml. The drug suppresses recurrences of cardiac tachyarrhythmias in a high percent of patients, in the range of 80% or more for most supraventricular tachycardias and in about 66% of patients with ventricular tachyarrhythmias, sometimes requiring addition of a second antiarrhythmic agent. Side effects, particularly when high doses are used, may limit amiodarone's usefulness and include skin, corneal, thyroid, pulmonary, neurologic, gastrointestinal and hepatic dysfunction. Aggravation of cardiac arrhythmias occurs but serious arrhythmias are caused in less than 5% of patients. Amiodarone affects the metabolism of many other drugs and care must be used to reduce doses of agents combined with amiodarone.
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            Risk assessment for sudden cardiac death in dialysis patients.

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              Prevalence and prognostic significance of atrial arrhythmias after orthotopic cardiac transplantation.

              We studied the duration and prognostic significance of atrial arrhythmias in the denervated transplanted heart, specifically the occurrence of atrial fibrillation in the absence of vagal modulation. Substantial animal data indicate that vagally induced dispersion of atrial refractoriness plays a central role in the induction and maintenance of atrial fibrillation. We studied the occurrence of atrial arrhythmias in the denervated hearts of 88 consecutive orthotopic transplantations in 85 patients by means of continuous telemetry and all available electrocardiographic tracings. Fifty percent of recipients (44 of 88) developed at least one atrial arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation occurred 23 times (21 recipients), atrial flutter 39 times (26 recipients), ectopic atrial tachycardia 3 times (3 recipients) and supraventricular tachycardia 18 times (11 recipients). The number of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter episodes did not differ (23 vs. 39, p = 0.072), but the mean duration of atrial flutter was longer than that of atrial fibrillation (37.0 +/- 10 vs. 6.6 +/- 3.6 h, p = 0.014). Atrial fibrillation was associated with an increased risk of subsequent death (10 of 21 recipients with vs. 15 of 67 without atrial fibrillation, risk ratio 3.15 +/- 0.18, p = 0.005 by Cox proportional hazards model). All 5 recipients who developed "late" atrial fibrillation (> 2 weeks after transplantation) died versus 5 of 16 who developed atrial fibrillation within the first 2 weeks (p = 0.007). Causes of death included rejection (three recipients), allograft failure (two recipients), infection (three recipients) and multiorgan failure (two recipients). Atrial fibrillation was not associated with age, gender, ischemic time, reason for transplantation, echocardiographic variables, invasive hemodynamic variables or biopsy grade. Mean time from atrial arrhythmia to echocardiography was 2.7 +/- 3.3 days; that to biopsy was 4.8 +/- 6.3 days. Atrial flutter was not associated with subsequent death. Only 7 (15.9%) of 44 recipients demonstrated moderate or severe allograft rejection at the time of the arrhythmia. Atrial arrhythmias occur frequently in the denervated transplanted heart, often in the absence of significant rejection. Late atrial fibrillation may be associated with an increased all-cause mortality.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                16 February 2016
                : 10
                : 677-686
                [1 ]Department of Cardiology, Angiology and Pneumology, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
                [2 ]Department of Cardiac Surgery, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
                [3 ]Institute for Medical Biometry and Informatics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Andreas O Doesch, Medizinische Klinik, Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg, Innere Medizin III – Abteilung für Kardiologie, Angiologie und Pneumologie, Im Neuenheimer Feld 410, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany, Tel +49 6221 56 39936, Fax +49 6221 56 4105, Email andreas.doesch@ 123456med.uni-heidelberg.de
                © 2016 Rivinius et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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